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Consumers urged not to consume pre-packed pistachio suspected to be contaminated with aflatoxins (with photo)

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (August 7) urged the public not to consume a kind of pre-packed shelled pistachio imported from Italy as it was suspected to be contaminated with aflatoxins. The trade should also stop selling the product concerned immediately.

Product details are as follows:

Product name: Pistacchio Crudo
Place of origin: Iran
Packer: LIFE S.r.l. at Sommariva Perno in Italy
Lot no: L 101.14
Weight: 1 kilogram (kg)
Best before date: May 30, 2015

A spokesman for the CFS said, "The Centre received notification from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) of the European Commission that the kind of pre-packed shelled pistachio was detected with aflatoxins at a level of 282 microgram (µg) per kg. The Italian packer has initiated a recall of the affected product. A small amount of the affected product has been imported to Hong Kong."

Under the Harmful Substances in Food Regulation (Cap. 132 AF), the maximum permitted concentrations for aflatoxins in food (except for peanuts or peanut products) is 15µg/kg.

The spokesman said, "Upon notification, the CFS immediately contacted the importer concerned in Hong Kong, Ellermann Trading Limited, for marking and sealing of the remaining stock found in the importer's warehouse. According to the information provided by the importer, a certain amount of the affected product has been delivered to a retailer, but the product has yet to be put on shelves. Hence, the CFS believed that the product concerned has not entered the local market. The retailer will return the affected product to the importer for mark-and-seal and disposal by the CFS."

The CFS will alert the trade of the incident. They should stop selling the affected product immediately.

The spokesman advised members of the public who have bought the affected product overseas to stop consuming it and submit it to the CFS at 2/F, Fa Yuen Street Municipal Services Building, 123A Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok, during office hours for disposal. They should seek medical advice if they feel sick after consuming the product concerned.

The World Health Organization (WHO)'s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified naturally occurring aflatoxins as carcinogenic to humans, and the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) advised that intake of aflatoxins should be reduced to as low as reasonably possible although no health-based guidance value has been set. Aflatoxins can lead to liver cancer after long-term ingestion, and the risk for hepatitis B carriers is relatively high.

To avoid excessive intake of mycotoxins, the spokesman advised people to maintain a balanced and varied diet to minimise the risk from a small range of food items, and to avoid consuming food that looks mouldy or damaged.

The spokesman said the CFS will continue to closely monitor the situation and take appropriate follow-up actions.

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) today (August 7) advised people not to eat a kind of pre-packed shelled pistachio imported from Italy called Pistacchio Crudo, as shown in the photo, which was suspected to be contaminated with aflatoxins. The trade should also stop selling the product concerned immediately.
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) today (August 7) advised people not to eat a kind of pre-packed shelled pistachio imported from Italy called Pistacchio Crudo, as shown in the photo, which was suspected to be contaminated with aflatoxins. The trade should also stop selling the product concerned immediately.

Ends/Thursday, August 7, 2014
Issued at HKT 21:19

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Last revision date: 07-08-2014